during this advent season, i am writing about some of the people that have influenced me during my journey. most of these are friends with whom i didn't continue to communicate frequently once my circumstances in life changed, and i moved on to other jobs or other towns, but at christmas as i wrote notes on christmas cards, i was reminded of their roles in shaping my life.
one of these was "bill." a friend had asked for me to fill in for her as organist at a church in our town while she took some summer school classes. during the course of the summer, bill called and asked if he could come by my house and visit with me. i didn't know bill, and in the course of our phone conversation he introduced himself as the chair of the search committee for an organist in a local church. we arranged to meet, and he came by my house at the appointed time to interview me and see if i was interested in applying for the job.
i had never worked as a paid permanent musician for a church before, except for a brief period in college, and in that case i knew the job would not last more than a few months because of my status as a student. as soon as i met bill in person and we began to talk, i knew that he was a person on whom i could depend. i liked him immediately, and the feeling was mutual. soon an interview and audition with the full committee was arranged, and bill's encouragement gave me the confidence i needed to favorably impress the other committee members.
within a few days, the job was offered to me, and i excitedly accepted. bill and his wife, both of whom sang in the choir, became close friends of my wife and me, as did their best friends, a couple who were also members of the choir. The six of us spent many happy evenings together over food and games of cards. one of the saddest days of my life was the day bill died, and one of the most difficult services i ever played was his funeral. his favorite piece was by handel, and i will never forget playing it with tears streaming down my face. for several years afterward, i could not play that piece because i always cried over losing bill when i played it.
a couple of years later, we moved away, and bill's wife soon went to live with one of her daughters. for years, we exchanged notes at christmas, and my wife and i always loved hearing from her. one christmas, though, we got a note from her daughter thanking us for our friendship with her parents and for staying in touch with her mother. bill's wife had passed away, too, and there would be no more christmas notes exchanged between us.
this advent, i give thanks for bill and sue for believing i could do the job bill was responsible for filling, for being our friends, for their faithful service to our church, and for giving me wonderful memories of two wonderful people who made my life better. my prayer today is that each of you has wonderful friends like bill and sue and that each of us can be such a friend to others. shalom.